INDEPENDENCE — Negotiations between the Cavaliers and restricted free agents Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic are the same as they’ve been the entire offseason — ongoing.
With training camp set to open Oct. 1, the sides continue to talk, but no breakthroughs have been made.
“I’d like to have them both back,” Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said Wednesday in Independence, where the team held the grand opening for its new practice facility, the Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I’d like to have them both back for more than a year. Commenting on it more than that is not beneficial to the negotiating process.”
When the free-agent signing period started in July, it was thought the 6-foot-10 Varejao would receive an offer sheet that would pay him at least the mid-level exception ($5.36 million) in the first year. A deal with the Memphis Grizzlies was rumored for several weeks but never materialized, and little has happened since.
Pavlovic also apparently has not received what he considers a satisfactory offer from another team, meaning there is a possibility both players might end up accepting the Cavaliers’ qualifying offer. After playing the 2007-08 season with that one-year deal — Pavlovic would earn almost $2.8 million, while Varejao would make about $1.5 million — they would become unrestricted free agents.
That scenario, however, would come with huge drawbacks for both players and the Cavaliers.
From Pavlovic’s and Varejao’s standpoint, they run the risk of serious injury and a subpar season, not to mention the fact next year’s free-agent class is expected to be strong, which will lessen the chance of either getting a big-money offer.
From the Cavaliers’ standpoint, they would no longer be able to retain Pavlovic and Varejao simply by matching any offer sheet they sign, as they can do this offseason. Cleveland could still go over the salary cap to sign the two players in the 2008 offseason because it would hold their Bird rights, but if either signed with another team, he would be lost. Also, should either player accept the Cavaliers’ qualifying offer, the team could not trade him for one year without his permission.
At this point, it appears as though the Cavaliers have offered both players multiyear deals and are waiting to see if their agents can get a better contract offer from another club. Cleveland will almost certainly match any offer Varejao gets and is highly likely to do the same with Pavlovic, unless he gets an offer close to the mid-level exception, which is improbable at this stage.
The players and their agents, meanwhile, are probably hoping the Cavaliers will up the ante a bit with camp approaching.
“We still have a couple weeks (before camp),” Ferry said. “We’re working through negotiations with Sasha and Andy. … We’d like both guys back. Other than that, we’re exploring the free-agent market and the trade market (in an attempt to acquire other players).”
While many fans are upset the team has failed to make any moves since last season’s run to the NBA Finals, Ferry is not about to make any knee-jerk decisions.
“I don’t think you ever do something just to do it,” he said. “We just had a good run in the playoffs. We’re a young group overall, with a good mix of youth and experience. Obviously, we’re going to try to do everything we can to get better.”
Ferry said the Cavaliers were active participants early in the free-agent signing period, but most players were either out of their price range, not worth the money they were seeking or simply decided to go elsewhere.
“I don’t know that I saw someone that would make us drastically better that we could go after, other than in a sign-and-trade, and we explored that,” the GM said.
Coach K and LJ
Ferry said Mike Krzyzewski, his coach at Duke and the man in charge of the United States Olympic basketball team, “raved about LeBron (James) and what a joy he was to coach.”
“Coach thinks the world of LeBron,” Ferry said. “He loved coaching him (in the Olympic-qualifying tournament this summer). He thinks he’s a unique and special player.”
The 6-8 James, who is officially listed at the same 240 pounds he weighed coming out of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High, now weighs 255 but has no additional body fat. The 22-year-old also recently underwent Lasik surgery and now has better than 20/20 vision.
Players Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Shannon Brown and Dwayne Jones were at the grand opening of the practice facility, with Ilgauskas sporting a shaved head.
“I shaved it two days after the finals and kept it,” the balding 7-3 center said of the surprisingly good look.
• Ferry, a Duke graduate, has vowed payback to the unidentified person who put a huge North Carolina logo on the window of his new office.
• The GM cited Boston as the most-improved team in the Eastern Conference, while also saying Central Division rival Detroit had changed its identity a bit and gotten younger.
• Ferry said the Cavaliers are “absolutely” exploring the option of adding a veteran big man as an insurance policy, similar to the role Alan Henderson and Scot Pollard filled each of the last two seasons.
• James has a Dallas Cowboys schedule taped to his locker in the practice facility.
• While media day will officially kick off training camp Oct. 1, Ferry said the organization will bring in some of its younger players for a few workout sessions prior to that.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.